Scientists observe flattest explosion ever seen in space

Scientists have been left perplexed by an explosion that was observed in space and measured the size of our solar system. The explosion, which occurred 180 million light years away, had a shape that challenged the understanding of explosions in space, as it appeared like an extremely flat disk. This is highly unusual as explosions of stars in the universe are usually spherical in shape due to the spherical shape of stars themselves.

The explosion was classified as a bright Fast Blue Optical Transient (FBOT), a very rare type of explosion that is even less common than supernovas. The first bright FBOT was discovered in 2018 and was given the nickname “the cow”. Although it is not yet clear how FBOT explosions occur, scientists hope that this new observation will provide more insight.

The explosion was highly asymmetrical, which is an important discovery as asymmetry is not typically seen in exploding stars. According to Dr. Justyn Maund, Lead Author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, “these explosions challenge our preconceptions of how stars might explode in the universe.”

The discovery was made by chance when scientists spotted a flash of polarized light. By measuring the polarization, they were able to measure the shape of the explosion, which allowed them to reconstruct the 3D shape of the explosion and map the edges of the blast. This was done using the Liverpool Telescope located on La Palma, which has a mirror only 2.0m in diameter. By studying the polarization, the astronomers were able to reconstruct the shape of the explosion as if the telescope had a diameter of about 750km.

The researchers will undertake a new survey with the international Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, which is expected to help discover more FBOTs and further understand them.